Sports Media Friday: Impact of ESPN losing subscribers; Frank Deford discusses his career, sportswriting

Scanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports media:


Sports Media Watch with an interesting post on how ESPN is losing pace with its broadcast rivals.

While the primary rationale behind the shift of sporting events from ABC to ESPN was that younger viewers could not tell the difference, the fact that ESPN was in so many homes was another plus in the network’s favor. Crossing the 100 million threshold made ESPN a virtual peer of the broadcast networks, especially given the trend of seemingly exponential growth. Now, putting an event on ESPN rather than ABC means sacrificing nearly 10 million more homes than it did four years ago, at a time when cable appears to be in decline.

Perhaps that explains why ESPN, after years of starving ABC of major sporting events, has started to bolster the offerings on its broadcast sibling. Having exclusive rights to an NFL playoff game was a major milestone for ESPN and cable generally. Going back on that after one year was a surprising move, and a telling one. While January’s Cardinals/Panthers Wild Card Game was a major success for ESPN — ranking among the ten most-watched cable programs ever — it was also the NFL’s lowest rated playoff game in at least 17 years. If the NFL has the kind of relationship with ESPN that is so often suggested, one can imagine ESPN executives heard from the league about those numbers.

Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing looks at the reasons why the Brickyard 500 aired on NBCSN instead of NBC.

And it’s just those carriage contracts that make the Brickyard 400 and other premier events so important to NBCSN.  While ratings might be down for the event versus its time on ESPN, the record setting ratings for NBCSN are important ammunition to try and gain more revenue through increasing subscriber fees.  And yes, it’s well worth the tradeoff in viewers, at least for the network.  It’s the same reason why NBC puts a couple Stanley Cup Final games on NBCSN each year.  To become a bigger player in the sports media world, NBC needs to put more premier live sports on NBCSN.

The great Frank Deford is the subject of the latest “Still No Cheering in the Press Box” series by the Povich Center for Sports Journalism at Maryland.

Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing notes ESPN still has not hired a new ombudsman to replace Robert Lipsyte.

Deadline Detroit has excerpts from Tom Gage’s induction speech at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The former beat writer for the Detroit Tiger was the subject of last week’s column.

Richard Deitsch of talks with women in sports media about how they do their jobs while pregnant.

Dan Shaughnessy has a fun column about looking through the Boston Globe’s sports desk Rolodex of phone numbers.

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